Get Your Alberta Business Online, What it means in 2011
with David Howse and Robert May
It is 2011 and there is no longer any debate about whether or not your customers are online. (They are, just in case you are one of the 5 people not yet aware). Where consumers once turned to the advice of a local professional, a family member or friend, an article in a newspaper or magazine, or even a television show, for cues and advice on purchasing decisions, they now turn to the internet in record numbers. I reflect back on 2010 and the purchases I personally made online.
According to my Paypal account, I used the online payment provider for over 200 purchases in the past 12 months. Pretty amazing. What is even more amazing is the diversity of the items that I purchased. I used the internet to purchase common items like concert and airline tickets, but I also used it to buy items such as translation services for some documents and even for the purchase of my wedding ring!
Is your business online? Can local as well as national and international customers find you? Does your online presence help you make sales? Do you need help? If your business is not yet online, what are you waiting for?
Let us help you out with a simple step by step plan to get started. These are only the most basic steps you can take, but should be considered the minimum reasonable effort that any business should be taking.
1. Get a website. This is a pretty basic one for most, but it is the first building block needed to begin business online. The site should be built with a goal in mind: perhaps to distribute information on your business or your products, act as an online ordering portal, or even something as basic as to make your phone ring with more enquiries. Every business has different goals, needs, and expectations from their website. Know what yours are.
2. Promote your website Once you have a website you need your existing and future customers to know about it. Do this by adding it to all of your existing and future advertising and promotion. Get the name of the website out to as many people as possible and be prepared for the traffic when they come.
3. Optimize your website The greatest website in the world is no good if people cannot find it. Potential customers are browsing and searching the internet for your goods and services, but will only look at so many sites before someone else snaps them up as a customer. Making sure that your website ranks at the very top of the searches done by customers is important. This is sometimes referred to by the acronym SEO (search engine optimization).
4. Get Social It is not just your kids, but also your customers, who are using the internet to socialize with their friends and family. Websites such as Facebook and Twitter have grown so rapidly in usage that they dominate people’s conversations and even lives. Your business needs to be an active part of those conversations. Do not join up intending to ‘sell’ but join up and see what exactly is going on in the lives of your customers and how your business can meet those needs.
Below is a video on Social Media. It was produced for Lethbridge Business Owners.
5. Target Your Audience A strategic plan to find out where your potential customers are online and how you can reach them with your advertising message is mandatory. Placing ads in places that they are not seen or in front of people who are not potential buyers is a waste of money like many billboards, phonebook ads, etc. The nice thing about online advertising is that you can control exactly which type of individuals are shown your ads and even better, you can track their reaction and response to it. This allows you to be extremely efficient with your advertising budget.
6. Stay Active Your website, your social media profiles, and your online advertising needs to stay active and fresh. There is nothing worse than looking up a website and seeing a “Coming Soon in 2009!” banner or advertisement. Keeping the site up to date shows that your business is actively operating and progressing. This activity signals a company that has a future, will be around to maintain a relationship with a customer, and is exhibits progressive thinking. Customers expect this. It is that simple.
Many of these tasks you may in fact already be doing. Most of them actually cost very little and provide a hugely leveraged return to the business.
There are many professionals who can be hired to help a business get started. If your business is being left behind by your competitors don’t hesitate to contact me so I can point you in the right direction.
David Howse can be contacted at Calgary Social Media Marketing Company or by Calling 403-991-8863
Further to Point 3: Search Engine Optimization
SEO is about getting your website listed as high as possible on search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. If you’re not on the first page or maybe the second page, then potential customers may never find you! SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.
The search engine that most people try to rank high on is Google because over 80% of searches are performed on Google. SEO is a marketing function and not a computer programmer or web designer function.
Considering that there are very few fully trained and qualified marketing consultants in Alberta, it is quite difficult to find an SEO expert. Great SEO needs to start with an interview so the expert setting up your SEO can better understand your business and your customers. Things like primary trading zone, demographics, business type, goods and services offered are just a start for what goes in to great SEO.
The actual SEO techniques should be the same regardless of who is doing the SEO. But to ensure quality, the SEO expert needs to wear a sales, marketing, and business hat.
Here is a partial checklist of what the person conducting your SEO should be looking at:
1. Your website’s Google Analytics data.
2. The content and the code (programming) of your website.
3. The sales-side of your business. What are your products’ features, advantages, and benefits?
4. What are the demographics of your customers?
Great SEO is not cheap but poor SEO is even more expensive. If these questions (among others) don't get asked of you, then consider finding someone else to do your SEO.
- David Howse
For More on Search Engine Optimization click Alberta SEO